Monday, 18 July 2011

Classic Song 46 - Gowan "A Criminal Mind"

Let's talk about truly classic music, folks.

Today, I pay tribute to a good friend, who goes by
the names of Gowan, Lawrence Gowan, Larry Gowan

My mind drifts back... back... back to the fall of 1977.

I was the bassist in a popular Toronto band called 
The Hunt. We were touring in support of our debut
album on GRT Records, and were performing in a
club in southern Ontario, when I was approached 
by a guy named Larry Sykes. He said he liked my
bass playing and that he managed another Toronto
act: Rhinegold. He further asked if I would be at all
interested in joining Rhinegold as their new bassist.

When I said 'no', he supplied me with various promo
articles on Rhinegold, including a five song demo,
on an open reel, 1/4 inch stereo tape that included
some wonderfully proggy, Beatle-y music that was
heavy on great vocals and great melodies. A song
named All Over Town totally grabbed me by the
ears, and made me reconsider my initial response.

I then got in touch with Mr. Sykes, who gave me
Larry's home number, which I called from a phone
booth on a cold, rainy night. I was living with The
Hunt's guitar playing leader, Paul Cockburn, at 
the time, and felt that I should at least be a 
bit discrete with my followup enquiry.

When I mentioned my interest in meeting and
possibly jamming with his band, Larry 
asked me one simple question:

"Who's your favourite group?"

"Yes!", I exclaimed, to which he replied,
"Okay. Right answer. You're in the band".

Of course, I still had to audition, but Larry 
and I really hit it off, to say the very least.

The rest is history, as they say. 

I joined Rhinegold and enjoyed a year and a half of
great playing and constant rehearsing and touring.
But we could NOT get ourselves a record deal,
no matter who we called or what we tried. We
could pack houses everywhere we went, but
could not get the powers-that-were to even
offer us an initial development deal.

So in June 1979, I left Rhinegold and joined
Surrender, another popular local act that was
signed to Capitol Records, and recorded and
toured with them until New Year's Eve 1980,
when I quit the club scene altogether and began
the incredibly slow process of reinventing myself
as a session player/songwriter/producer and such.

Meanwhile, Larry/Lawrence/LG/Gowan retired
Rhinegold and went solo, signing a record deal
with CBS and releasing his debut album, 
Keep Up The Fight.

By that time, I'd gotten lost, deep in the Toronto
jingle jungle... writing and demoing little thirty
second ditties for big Toronto ad agencies,
which is what I've been doing ever since.

But Larry forged ahead with his solo career,
releasing his multi-platinum, multiple award 
winning sophomore album, Strange Animal, 
in January 1985. The album is still as vital
now as it was then, and contains many
powerful songs, all self-composed.

To me and hundreds of thousands of
other Gowan fans, his signature song
on that album, A Criminal Mind, has
stood the true test of time, and still
ranks as one of the greatest songs
ever to emerge from a Canadian
artist of international stature.

Here are two videos of A Criminal Mind:
the first embedded video, filmed during
a Gowan show in 1990, shows just
how ecstatic his fans were (and still 
are) at the sound of the opening 
piano motif. The second video
(which would not embed, for
some reason - dammit!!!)
is proof positive that his
last ten years of singing,
playing, touring and
recording with Styx
have not, in any way,
diminished either his 
vocal or pianistic 
prowess one iota. 

Here's multi-named
and multi-talented Larry Gowan,
playing the inimitable "A Criminal Mind".

Mozz the Elder

Gowan - solo:

Gowan with Styx and The Contemporary 
Youth Orchestra and Chorus of Cleveland (2006):


  1. I miss the Rhinegold years. I still occasionally wake up to the thought "Where are they playing this weekend?", before realizing yesterday is gone. Y'All kept my head together when I thought all was lost. Now LG keeps refreshing that strength-assist, and I thank the PTB that he is! Keeping an eye on your blog helps too! Keep up the good works! ;)

  2. Mozz, what a diverse career you've had!! I really enjoyed your blog here in cyberland. I live in Florida and have been a "Styx" fan since 1977. When I heard that Dennis DeYoung was replaced in the 90's, I was skeptical--I then began the process of researching LG; who was this Elfin individual who was joining one of my favorite bands of all time? I've sang in the Tampa area for years, so, I'm a bit picky about my players.

    I have since become a HUGE Gowan fan!! I love his solo work and the work he has done with Styx. If you could post some Rhinegold music somewhere for us so that we could hear you and LG play, I would be very greatful!

    The average person has no idea the kind of work and dedication involved in the writing and performing of commercials. It's not for everyone, it's a talent and exercise in tenacity that not all artist's can aspire to. Kudos to you! You probably should write a book!


    Deb Miller

  3. Back in 1985 I was way too young to experience Gowan or even know about the man I proudly share a stage with today.

    The year was 2010 and I got the chance to a part of the Gowan world. As I was learning the repertoire and being a first time listener to much of Gowan music; I realized how relevant his music is even now 26 years later.

    I love all the hits but what's really amazing are the songs that aren't so obvious. They creep up on you and instantly the balance of a true artist is realized.

    On stage I see Larry to my left and I'm in awe. I sometimes can't help but to watch him do his thing and for a brief fan moment I lose where I am in the song. (Thanks LG)

    They sure don't make artists like Gowan anymore. He's more relevant now in this day in age then people might take him for. He's as authentic as they come. It's extremely refreshing!

    -Danny j

  4. I've been a Gowan fan since the 80s as well as a Styx fan, and was thrilled when the two combined. Thank you for writing such a great article about the early days and your experiences in Rhinegold!